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THE LIE TREE – Frances Hardinge
Genre – pretty much a mash-up of all the genres (literally how can one book contain so many themes?!) Historic fiction, mystery, thriller, fantasy.
Published by – May 7th 2015 by Macmillan Children’s Books (although this is certainly a YA book – I don’t understand why this is advertised as children’s!!)
Pages – 410
After reading The Costa Book Award recipient of 2013, The Shock of the Fall and LOVING IT, I decided to pick up the most recent winner by Hardinge.
I really want to rate this book higher. I really do. But my thought process has split in two to corroborate with the two different halves of this book – whilst the first half set the scene, and introduced the key plot lines so to speak (*no spoilers*), it was awfully slow to entice in all honesty. Maybe this is just a purely personal opinion, but I really did not feel gripped for the first 150 pages or so, and actually had to break the reading up so as to try and motivate myself to push through it. For some reason, the 150 pages of family hierarchy, Jane-Austen style dress discussion, and background character establishments, were not really in my interests!!
With that being said, I must admit that I LOVED the second half of the book. The murder-mystery had me hooked; it was one of the first “detective” type stories that the “killer/killers/feral animals” (I’m not giving anything away!) was/were not painfully predictable. The Lie Tree went from strength to strength, with my interests peaking as the plot thickened. Also, learning about the Victorian era’s industry/gossip/technology was truly captivating!
To me, the Lie Tree was a happy middle between the standard of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, mixed with the drama of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (and without the awful quality of the latter – has anyone else seen the film?! Naturally I was all over the zombies element – because I have a one-sided brain that does love a good zombie movie/TV show *cough* – but let’s just say it didn’t really match the big leagues of The Walking Dead etc. Luckily I was on the plane so could switch it over, but wowwww was it dull.)
Anways, back to my review of The Lie Tree, a book that is 110% utterly zombie-free.
Hardigne propels this story to us from Victorian Britain, as we dive head-first into the story by learning that the Sunderly family are fleeing Britain. Faith, the 14 year-old indistinct daughter of the family, has a passion for science and intellect … but the social confines and sexist views of the 19th Century have other ideas for her. We follow Faith as she divagates from her mother’s whims and attempts to find out why the family has been uprooted and forced out of mainland Britain. Snooping in the middle of the night results in a big surprise for Faith, and pushes her onto a path of even bigger consequence.
Then, we learn of the Mendacity Tree (or “the lie tree” as it coined – aka the TITLE OF THE WHOLE BOOK that only comes into play a third of the way into its duration). This tree feeds on twisted lies that Faith must spread through the island, and bores fruit that, when eaten, provide you with some massive secrets in return.
To me, Faith Sunderly (the protagonist) tended to not be very likeable. Although appreciating her efforts to secure some sort of stability and justice, I felt as if she was too rude, and unbelievable at times. I’M SORRY, I’M SORRY but her disposition just didn’t harmonise with my hopes! Her little brother Howard just served to enhance the plot line, and their games of “hide and seek” gave Faith an excuse to do some extra snooping. Although, the most powerful moment in the novel was probably when Faith absolutely went bat-shit crazy and ENTIRELY DISREGARDED EVERYTHING HER MOTHER HAS EVER SAID and allowed Howard to eat with his left-hand. Now that is sibling love.
My real stand-outs from this book, were Myrtle (Faith’s misunderstood, yet at the same time entirely typical Victorian mother) and Paul Clay. I have so much to say about the latter in the spoilers section up a-head, but for now I’ll just say that he is possibly the most incredible, yet most idiotic person at the same.
What I ADORED
- Paul Clay and Faith’s companionship
- The murder mystery – literally everyone is suspected at one point or another, but the clues were ALWAYS THERE
- How bad-ass Faith becomes.
- The incredible inversions of expectation of our perception of characters.
What I DISLIKED
- Paul Clay and Faith’s companionship
- Genuinely 70% of the characters.
Spoilers. Spoilers. Spoilers.
(skip ahead for the verdict)
WHY DID PAUL CLAY BOTHER TO STAY WITH FAITH THROUGHOUT THIS. If I were him, I literally would take physical measures to distance myself from me. *steps away slowly*. Clearly he had feelings for her though SO WHY DIDN’T THEY KISS?! Myrtle and Mr. Clay is cool, like well done them or whatever if they like each other, but it’s so clear that Faith and Paul are so much better suited.
Occasionally, the secrets from the Lie Tree were so underwhelming. In return for making the whole island believe Lambert, Jackers and Clay were corrupt, she achieved the hallucination of dinosaurs – WHAT A FAIR TRADE.
The second half of this book deserves to be read; just make sure you can endure the first if you pick it up!
What are you reading right now? Any recommendations? Let me know down below!